Many churches throughout the world have taken to an annual Blessing of Animals Service.
Most of these services are held on or near the purported date of the birthday of Francis of Assisi, October 4.
Francis is known as the Patron Saint of the Animals and helps planners to have a focus for the services.
(For more on Francis)
The actual date and time of your service is totally up to you – many hold the service on the Sunday nearest to October 4, others the Saturday nearest. Some hold the service in the afternoon others in the morning. Some hold the service on the church lawn, others actually encourage the pets to come in the church building.
(For video examples)
Some use a minimal liturgy to focus on blessing each individual animal fairly quickly with least chance of distraction for the pet.
Some use a more formal liturgy with congregational singing and prayers.
But, it is good to remember that it doesn’t have to be elaborate to meet a need.
One pastor started by placing a notice of the service on the congregational notice board in front of the church building where thousands of people traveled by every day.
The first Blessing of the Pets service in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, brought 23 dogs and cats and their assorted people to meet the pastor on the church lawn – most of whom had never stepped foot into the church before this.
You are urged to give it a try.
Here are some ideas.
You may use any of them.
But you are encouraged to be creative.
1. Plan ahead. Instead of going on auto-pilot the day after Thanksgiving, hold a family meeting to decide what the group really wants to do and who’s going to do what.
2. If you need a symbol for giving (in addition to Jesus and the Magi), learn about St. Nicholas. Santa Claus has been completely taken over by commerce.
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